Twins' Perez Has Power Surge

Infielder finds pop after Tommy John surgery





MINNEAPOLIS—The Twins always suspected Jairo Perez had some power in his bat, despite his 5-foot-10 stature. They just didn't know it would take a pitching injury to find it.

Perez, a Venezuelan infielder who signed with the Twins when he was 16 in 2006, sat out the entire 2010 season after Tommy John surgery in his throwing elbow. Most infielders don't need the surgery, but the procedure seemed to cure Perez's bat as well as his arm.

"I don't know if the two are related, but his bat really progressed and matured after the surgery," Twins vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "Even at the lower levels, his bat had stood out, but he took it to another level once his elbow was healthy."

That level was to the top of the Midwest League in 2011. Joining low Class A Beloit in June, Perez crushed 20 doubles and 15 home runs in just 276 at-bats and posted a .993 OPS that ranked second in the league.

Perez had shown gap power before, hitting 16 doubles to go with a career-best .338/.437/.525 average in 160 Rookie-level Dominican Summer League at-bats in 2008. But he began pulling the ball with spectacular results last season.

He moved up to high Class A Fort Myers in 2012, and the home run power has been slow to return in spacious and pitcher-friendly Florida State League ballparks. But he's still reaching the gaps with his exaggerated Dustin Pedroia-like cut, posting 13 doubles and four homers with a .249/.338/.389 line in 193 at-bats. Even better, he had 20 walks and just 21 strikeouts.

The tricky part, Radcliff said, is finding a position for the infielder, who's 24. Perez was originally a second baseman, but the Twins were concerned about his range, and he's playing third base and a little outfield in Fort Myers.

"I'm not sure he has a position locked down," Radcliff said. "His defense will have to improve. But that's part of development, and if his bat keeps progressing, he can build on it."

TWIN KILLINGS

• Kyle Gibson, the Twins' first-round pick in 2009, threw off a mound in June for the first time since he had Tommy John surgery a year ago and reported no soreness. The 24-year-old righthander, who appeared headed to the major leagues last year after posting a 2.96 ERA and reaching Triple-A in 2010, hopes to return to action in August.

• First baseman Chris Parmelee, demoted after a subpar April with the Twins, batted .375/.500/.708 in 15 games at Triple-A Rochester and was recalled to the majors.